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State Bar of California News Release
For Immediate Release: July 17, 2017
Board of Trustees adopts amendments to prosecutor ethics rule
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The Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California on July 13 adopted amendments to a new ethics rule regarding the responsibilities of criminal prosecutors that address prosecutors’ ethical disclosure obligations.
The amendments to the State Bar’s Rule of Professional Conduct 5-110 (“Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor”) will go to the California Supreme Court for approval before they take effect. The amendments to Rule 5-110(D) say that a prosecutor in a criminal case shall:
“Make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that the prosecutor knows or reasonably should know tends to negate the guilt of the accused, mitigate the offense, or mitigate the sentence, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal[.]”
The amendments also provide further guidance on the disclosure obligations.
On May 1, the State Bar implemented the other portions of Rule 5-110 that were approved by the California Supreme Court. (Read the Supreme Court order.)
The new rule included a new requirement that when a prosecutor “knows of clear and convincing evidence” establishing that a wrongful conviction occurred, the prosecutor must seek to remedy the conviction. The new provisions are similar to the provisions in American Bar Association Model Rule 3.8.
“In order to ensure public trust in the justice system and to protect the rights of defendants, prosecutors should be held to high ethical standards,” said State Bar President James P. Fox. Fox spent nearly three decades as the elected district attorney in San Mateo County.
The ethics rule update is part of a major overhaul of the Rules of Professional Conduct for the first time since the 1980s. The rules guide attorneys licensed in California. Attorneys who violate the rules are subject to discipline from the State Bar.
The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system since 1927. All lawyers practicing law in California must be admitted to the State Bar.
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